Laura Oliver is a coupon extraordinaire and the mind behind the money-saving blog afrugalchick.com. She took some time out of her day to discuss her new project (a “Google for coupons”), how she got her start in saving and some of her top money saving tips.
Sometimes the wisest thing a daughter can do is listen to her mother—just ask Laura Oliver, the blogger of A Frugal Chick fame. Laura embraced frugality a year ago in an attempt to sidestep debt when she decided to go to graduate school. To that end, being hip to the latest style fell out of fashion for her, and she began to pay more attention to the price tag on clothing instead of the designer label. She tends to leave the house with only $20 in her pocket so that she has no option but to limit her day’s spending. It’s that mentality that led her to find one of her best deals yet: a 40 inch flat screen that she bought with swag bucks, which are points shoppers accumulate and put toward another purchase. She also routinely walks down the scratch and dent aisle of stores to find incredible savings.
She freely admits that when she first started blogging about bargains, she had no idea that she could get paid for doing it. Now her money saving blog has grown into an online frugal community where she engages with people who share her penchant for penny pinching. She also teaches coupon classes several times a week. She appreciates the opportunity to share her tips with people face-to-face so that she can hone her skills as a speaker, plus, “…It’s cool to meet people,” she says. What is the most frequently asked questions during her classes? “People consistently express that they want deals on meat and gas prices,” Laura says. “For meat deals it always depends on what specials are typically running, but for gas, the most effective way to combat gas prices is to simply drive less.”
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You won’t see Laura driving to Walmart as much as she used to because she learned that better buys can often be found at other stores. “The best deals for necessities like razors are found at drug stores,” she says. “By shopping at drugstores, you can save the store credit and use the saved money to buy something else. But the most effective way I’ve found to save money is to ask myself, ’Do I really need this?’ ‘Is this a need or a want?’” Other helpful tips she recommends are to wait two weeks before buying something that isn’t a necessity and to make a menu each week and stick to only getting items at the grocery store that are needed to prepare those meals.
Laura recently launched a coupon database (http://bit.ly/yvCcw2) which she describes as “Google for coupons.” People type in what they need, and the database serves up every coupon that is available for that product. She says this is especially useful for those moving into or living in an apartment because basics like paper towels and cleaning supplies can add up quickly.
Each Tuesday she attends an online “linky party” where bloggers sling recipes or tips and publish posts written by others in the coupon-clipping community. “The frugal bloggers are a huge family and most people get along really well,” Laura says. “There are about a dozen people I consider close friends but I have no idea what they look like. I don’t consider them competitors because it’s silly to think readers will only look at one blog. I would rather the blog they look at be ethical.”
As busy as Laura is, she recently endeavored to read 52 books in 52 weeks to broaden her mind and her perspective. She also teaches voice and piano lessons, sings in her church and enjoys acting. Check out her blog, visit her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @afrugalchick!
Coupon picture by: huffingtonpost